I’ve never really read more than an issue or two of Wired magazine, only because I knew if I did follow the periodical on a regular basis, I would further more be a slave to technology than is humanly necessary. That said, for a few years now I have been a loyal follower of the “Cool Tools” blog curated by Kevin Kelly, the founding editor of Wired. The blog proved so popular and full of, well, cool tools, that Kelly collated the best of the best into one gigantic catalog-reference guide of the same name. Over 450 pages of a seductive hybrid, melding your grandmother’s clockwork Sears catalog and the bottomless carpetbag of an exceptional, twinkle-eyed gadget clown. Initially, I checked it out from the library (of course), but after a day or two of barely exploring one-third of the tome, I knew I had to purchase my own personal copy.
The “title” page reads thus: “A cool tool is...anything useful that increases learning, empowers individuals, does work that matters, is either the best or the cheapest or the only thing that works.” The inside and back covers are divided and indexed into 31 separate topics such as Craft, Dwelling, Edibles, Big Systems, Mobile Living, Storytelling, Aurality, Science Process, and Somatics. Sold yet? Ok, there is also another index by the specific name of the tool and QR codes in each and every entry to link you straight to the web, usually the manufacturer’s specific site or Amazon. The back cover alone also gives you options: Raise backyard chickens, Erect an igloo, Publish an ebook, or Design your own fabric. Kelly and his team inform you in the first seven pages that all entries and/or links are as updated as possible, provide a FAQ, a How To Use This Book primer, and a handy supportive entry of a book on de-cluttering your life. Sounds counter-productive, right? Not really. Think of it as a non-threatening “abandon hope all ye who enter here.” Kelly plays the wide-eyed Tools R’ Us Virgil to your drooling Dante.
This seems like a sales pitch, I know. As if I’m the underground marketing intern for Kelly’s company; but the title is self-published and most of the profits go right back into the people and materials that shaped the book in the first place. The best part is that you can spend hours slowly thumbing through it and not even think of purchasing anything. Opening it randomly now, this is what I find: Three Jaw Brace, Virtual Piano, Silicone Pinch Bowls, and Etymotic Research Earplugs. If you put this title on hold down at your local library, make sure you bring a big bag as this book is like a yoga mat for cats. Your brain, your budget, and your exposure to stuff that’s actually productive, however, will most certainly need their own personal Corpse pose. Enjoy.
Who better, than a pet rock, to guide you through the intricate field of Earth Sciences. They come from the earth and have cousins all around the world. Let me introduce them.
Iggy – short for igneous is the youngest of the bunch. He was born in an explosion of great magnitude in the Pacific Northwest in 1980. He has cousins all around the world, but most of his first cousins are still on the slope of Mt. St. Helens in Washington.
Sedim – short for sedimentary is very complex. She is mysterious about revealing her age. Her many layers tell the stories of different moments in her history which spans a great length of time. Some of her cousins have been known to gather at the base of Devil’s Tower.
Morph – short for metamorphic, is very very old. But for most of his long life he was hidden in the depths of the earth. He helped to form one of the largest mountain ranges in the United States, The Rocky Mountains, but didn’t see the light of day until much of what was causing the pressure on him, had eroded. his cousins go back for generations in the Appalachian mountains, which used to be very large, but are now just the remaining metamorphic rocks that formed their core.
When would you like to have lived? I sometimes wonder what I would be doing if I lived in a different time. What would my life be like? The Time Traveler's Guide to Elizabethan England by Ian Mortimer has helped me learn about life in England during the reign of Elizabeth I, 1558-1603.
This is a prosperous time in England. Towns and cities are growing. London’s population hits 200,000 by the end of Elizabeth’s reign. While I am visiting London, I would want to see Shakespeare's latest play. Many customs are very different. Even the Queen likes a good bear baiting. This is a much rougher time. Some things have changed more than others. Lawyers were just as skilled then as now, but doctors are much better in the 21st century. If I were sick in Elizabeth’s time, I would probably do better if I called a priest instead of a doctor. I also need to remember to pay heed to my social betters as this is a very class-conscious time.
There is lots of beer. It is safer than the water. I will be drinking about a gallon a day. Unless I am a gentleman, I won’t be able to afford wine. A strong nose and lots of perfume are helpful as there are many noxious smells. The growing populations only add to the problem. The Elizabethan people don’t enjoy the stink, but there often is nothing they can do.
Does Elizabethan England sound interesting? Why not take a trip back and see if it is for you.
Librarian Patricia is reading Estamos Hasta la Madre. Poet and activist Javier Sicilia analyzes Mexico's corruption and so-called "war on drugs," reflects on the Movement for Peace and Justice, and demands accountability from government.
When applause fades and bleachers empty, the big top is a lonely place. The performers in the Mantecon Brothers circus know this all too well. Night after night, they showcase their stage personas, losing who they are once the spotlight dies. The road perpetually beckons. It’s a hard life, but the adulation of the crowd is a powerful drug.
When the brothers abruptly part ways, Don Ernesto and Don Alejo negotiate for performers. The latter bargains poorly and is left with eight sub par performers and a diving pig. The circus seems all but finished, but their story is only beginning. The quest for survival and rediscovering who they are takes over fanfare-laden dreams.
Stumbling into the nearby town with all the pageantry they can muster proves futile. Years of abandonment are visible, as is the lack of a sustainable habitat. As reality sets in, the vacant houses offer an invitation of unknown normality to settle down and leave the transient life. What does permanence mean for people who only know the circus? Who will they be if they aren’t performers? What does their future hold?
It’s not pretty.
If you’ve ever had to do a report you know that there are many ways to present what you want people to know. You can give a speech, write a 5 page paper, create a graph, make a movie or sing a song. A classic way is to make a poster.
A new spin on the poster approach are infographics. Basically, they put information in an organized and visual way that can make it easier to pull everything together and get the big picture. They can be complex like this chapter by chapter guide to The Great Gatsby or simple like the bowtie Venn diagram. They can be interactive like this wind map of the Earth or answer questions you may have never thought to ask like, 'how many teaspoons are in a cup?' (48, yeah I didn't know either.)
Here at the library we have made a set infographics about how to find good information online. Like this one:
Why did we make infographics? So that you can look at research in a whole different way.
Want more information about research and infographics? Ask a librarian!
Wit and compassion are two qualities that do not always go together, but they always seem to mingle nicely in the work of David Rakoff. It was bittersweet reading his last book, Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish. I’d heard him so often on the radio, especially on This American Life, that I could hear Rakoff’s quiet, witty voice in my head as I read. Rakoff died of cancer at the age of 47 in 2012, and I miss him.
This novel in verse is short and sweet, sometimes dark, but leavened with rhymes that are so clever I’d sometimes have to stop and give a whoop of pleasure before returning to the story. At one point, a 1950s secretary named Helen, her affair with her unworthy boss having ended badly, is remembering the scene she made afterwards at a memorable office Christmas party.
...Where feeling misused, she had got pretty plastered,
And named his name, publicly, called him a bastard.
The details are fuzzy, though others have told her
She insulted this one, and cried on that shoulder,
Then lurched ‘round the ballroom, all pitching and weaving
And ended the night in the ladies lounge, heaving.
The story jumps through the whole 20th century through a number of loosely connected characters, and is more a series of character studies and vignettes than a novel. Terrible things happen to some of these characters, but what shines through more than anything else is Rakoff’s pleasure in life and his pleasure in observation.
Towards the end, a chapter about Clifford, a character who is dying of AIDS, ends with these lines:
He thought of those two things in life that don’t vary
(Well, thought only glancingly; more was too scary)
Inevitable, why even bother to test it,
He’d paid all his taxes, so that left… you guessed it.
Here you'll find a list of audio books by Rakoff and by other familiar voices from public radio. Please let me know if I forgot to include a good one.
In 2012, Spain passed a law with special provisions for people of Sephardic heritage to become Spanish citizens. Now the Spanish parliament is considering a new law that would allow people who can prove Sephardic heritage to become dual citizens of Spain, and speed up the process. This relaxing of citizenship rules is intended as partial reparation for a “historic mistake” -- in 1492, Spanish Jews were given an awful choice by Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand: convert to Christianity, or be forcibly expelled from the country within four months.
If you have Sephardic heritage, or think you might, this is a great time to begin to research your family history! The Sephardic roots booklist below should help you get started -- and it includes several general books about Sephardic history as well. The library also has lots of books about general Jewish genealogy research.
Perhaps you want more background about Spain’s 2012 citizenship law and the revisions currently being considered? Here are some basics to get you started:
- A little more detail about Spain’s 2012 citizenship law, with a lot of history, is in Francisco Macías’s “Alhambra Decree: 521 years later” (In Custodia Legis, Law Library of Congress, 29 March 2013).
- You can read the text -- in Spanish -- of the draft law the Spanish parliament is currently considering at the Spanish Ministry of Justice website: Anteproyecto de Ley nacionalidad sefardies (pdf, Español).
- Current information about acquiring Spanish citizenship, is available from the website of the Spanish Embassy in Washington, DC (in English). Presumably the information here will be updated if and when the new law is made official.
You may also want to mark your calendar for the upcoming exhibit at the Oregon Jewish Museum: Viva Sephardi: A Century of Sephardic Life in Portland. The exhibit opens June 11th, 2014.
Do you have more questions about genealogy research? Are you working on your own family history? If you'd like specific advice or help with your research challenges, do please Ask the Librarian!
“I have decided my poetry is so bad that I mustn’t write any more of it.”
- Cassandra from I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
Being a lapsed poet myself, I thought it important to take the time for a blog on poetry for National Poetry Month. Lapsed poet? Lapsed, meaning I studied it at university, have been published, won a competition, but have all but given it up. Sounds sorrowful, but truly it isn’t. More to the point, it is a changing of priorities. I only write when I feel like it. And often times, I feel like going for a walk instead, laying in the sun, reading, watching a film, trying a new recipe, or learning something new like the cello. You can see how poetry begins to take a backseat.
What I do now to keep my fingers in the poetry pot, is to use the poetry post in front of my house to post poems out into the neighborhood on a regular basis. Sometimes I post my own and sometimes it is another’s work that moves me at that particular moment. This keeps me reading poetry, which often leads to feeling like writing it myself. And the cycle continues…last year I purchased three new volumes of poetry, so perhaps I am warming up again to the idea of being a poet. If you are new to poetry or coming back to it after a break, why not pick up Staying Alive by Bloodaxe Books? In this perfect anthology you will find both the old standard and contemporary poets, easily digestible and applicable sections, and approachable poems about everyday topics.
One April I thought I would write a poem each day to celebrate National Poetry Month. It ended badly. How will you celebrate?
I've been working as a librarian for eighteen years. I have been involved in projects over the years. I heard about the My Librarian project. I thought about applying. Then I read a novel I loved. I had to share! I wanted to spread the love. My Librarian is about spreading the love of reading. I especially love novels about witches - witches that succeed and dispel evil or dark forces - witches who, against all odds, disarm evil.
Ok, maybe you're wondering what the novel is that turned my head. The Witch of Little Italy by Palmieri made me excited again about this genre. The story is about Eleanor Amore who returns to her grandmother and aunt’s home in the Bronx. She is pregnant and needs the comfort of home with her estranged family. Oddly enough Eleanor doesn’t remember her life before that tenth summer that she spent with her family. She is hoping they have the keys to her memory loss. If you liked Witches of Eastwick and Practical Magic, try The Witch of Little Italy. Also check out my list of Witchy novels.
Ever wonder why a cheeseburger in Ohio tastes the same in Utah? Your cup of coffee has the same kick in St. Louis as it did in Santa Fe? Look no further than Fred Harvey and the "Harvey girls".
Stephen Fried’s wonderful book, Appetite for America examines the westward expansion of the railroad through the life and legacy of Fred Harvey. Known to some as the “founding father of the nation's service industry”, Harvey saw railroads as more than transportation. The growing needs of workers and tourists required a better quality of amenities. Harvey was happy to accomodate. From humble beginnings, he transformed the landscape of America’s eateries featuring clean restaurants, efficient service, and a cup of coffee that tasted the same no matter which depot you stopped at.
It is a fascinating tale of one man's desire to provide a civilized place to eat and how it became so much more. All aboard!
Whenever I have to write something, whether it’s a research paper or an article, the first thing I do is keep track of my sources. There’s nothing more frustrating than having a really good fact, but not being able to remember where you found it!
There’s two good online resources, called citation makers, that I use to help me. The great thing is, you can use them to keep track of your resources while you do your research, but they also help you format the citations, and generate your list of sources, or bibliography.
Many students in Oregon use the OSLIS citation maker to generate citations. It allows you to chose between MLA and APA style guides. Be sure to read through all the instructions before you get started. You can’t save a list of citations here, so you’ll have to create your list all in one shot.
Easybib is a free service that offers you a lot more, and is good for high school and college students. You can save multiple bibliographies here, use their note taking system, generate a bibliography in Word, and generate citations for up to 59 formats of material, in MLA, APA or Chicago/Terabian style manuals. Watch the training video to learn more, and please contact a librarian if you need more help.
Earlier this week I attended the reading of a will. Unfortunately, the reading wasn't received well, and it looks like we are headed to trial. Thankfully, I get to witness the debacle from the comfort of my easy chair.
I'd like to share what I am reading this week. The best seller lists call out to me, and this week I am enjoying Sycamore Row by John Grisham. Featuring several of the characters from A Time to Kill, Sycamore Row takes us back to Ford County, where we realize that racism is still alive and well in the late 1980's. Seth Hubbard, termminally ill with cancer, has ended his life, and left behind a handwirtten will leaving almost all of his 21 million dollar fortune to his black housekeeper, and that does not sit well with his family. This story reminds me that, although we as a society have made great strides with regards to racism, we still have a long way to go.
Grisham's writing evokes the south in glorious ways, from the drawl of its residents, to the wrap around porches on the most stately of the town's houses. We also get a taste of the wrong side of the tracks, the areas where the poor blacks live. Put it together and throw in the trial and you've got a simmering pot of racial tension disguised in the genteel conversation of the south.
If you've been wondering what happened to young lawyer Jake Brigance, think about placing your hold for Sycamore Row. Access the title here, and take your pick from the book, the audio CD, or the ebook! And while you are waiting your turn in the holds queue, maybe revisit some older John Grisham titles, and rediscover one of the great storytellers of the day.
Wheels and axles, screws, pulleys, inclined planes, levers and wedges. Simple machines have been in use for millenia. Over time, many famous people have been involved in their discovery, describing how they work, and developing them into more complicated machines that still help us get the job done. Who were some of these people?
Archimedes was one of the first to document the properties of some of the simple machines. Famous in the field of mathematics, he is considered the inventor of the Archimedes screw. He also did work on the mathematical properties of levers and pulleys.
Who were others famous for experimenting with simple machines? During the Renaissance, scientists and inventors really came into their own. Using and combining simple machines in new and exciting ways was a trio of men from Italy: Leonardo da Vinci, Filippo Brunelleschi, and Galileo Galilei.
Leonardo was an artist, inventor, engineer who designed many machines that used or made simple machines. Brunelleschi is best known for designing and building the Duomo in Florence, Italy as well as the tools needed to move the building materials up to the dome. Galileo is known for his many scientific discoveries, including the use of inclined planes to determine mathematically the properties of gravity and speed.
Want to learn more? Come into a branch or contact a librarian and we'll be glad to help.
Money Smart Week, April 5 - 12, is a national public awareness campaign designed to help consumers better manage their personal finances. Libraries and other organizations across the country use this time to stress the importance of financial literacy, and inform consumers about where they can get help.
To celebrate Money Smart Week (and beyond!), we will release a series of five short videos called Money Tip$ over the next several weeks. The videos in this series are designed to provide quick tips for money-related topics such as credit, budgeting, saving, and setting SMART goals for managing your money. With tax season in full bloom, the first installment outlines several ways to make the most of tax time. This brief video will offer reminders about important tax credits, free tax preparation assistance, along with several ideas for using your income tax refund strategically to benefit you in the long run.
The Money Tip$ video series was produced by Multnomah County Library in collaboration with Innovative Changes, a Portland non-profit organization that exists to help low-income individuals, families and others, manage short-term financial needs in order to achieve and maintain household stability. Made possible by The Library Foundation with a grant from the FINRA Investor Education Foundation through Smart Investing @ your library ®, a partnership with the American Library Association.
Becoming a caregiver is a life-changing event. Maybe it starts gradually, with a bit of household help now and again, or maybe it starts with the sudden shock of a phone call in the night. Whatever your situation, take heart in knowing that you are not alone. A wealth of resources is available to support you.
When you don’t know where to turn first, the Multnomah County Aging & Disability Resource Connection (ADRC) Helpline is a good place to start. Information and assistance is available to seniors, people with disabilities, and caregivers 24 hours a day. Call 503-988-3646 Monday - Friday, 8am-5pm, to reach the most knowledgeable staff. Through this same number, you can contact the Family Caregiver Support Program, which offers services that can take some of the burden off unpaid caregivers.
Elders in Action is another great local resource. Through their Personal Advocate Services, trained volunteers help older adults and link individuals to community resources. They focus in the area of housing, healthcare, crime, and elder abuse. Personal Advocate volunteers assist older adults in Multnomah, Clackamas, and Washington counties.
The Aging and Disability Resource Connection is a resource directory for Oregon families, caregivers, and consumers seeking information about long-term support and services. Here you will find quick and easy access to information about resources in your community.
The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) knows that caregiving can be overwhelming. Through their Caregiving Resource Center, you can connect with caregiving resources both local and far away. Topics covered include Planning & Resources, Benefits & Insurance, Legal & Money Matters, Care for Yourself, Providing Care, Senior Housing, End-of-Life Care, and Grief & Loss. Caregiving Tools include a Care Provider Locator, a Long-Term Care Calculator, and even a Caregiving Glossary.
Caregivers for persons with Alzheimer’s and dementia face special challenges. The Alzheimer’s Association Caregiver’s Center can help arm you with the information you need to handle those challenges, whether you’re facing them now or need to be preparing for the future. Also through the Caregiver’s Center, you can locate local support groups, which can become an indispensable source of information and emotional support.
The Family Caregiver Alliance provides information on all aspects of caregiving, from public policy and research to practical tips on caregiving. Fact sheets on multiple issues are available in English, Chinese, Korean, Spanish, and Vietnamese.
Caregiver’s Magazine is an online magazine for, about, and by caregivers. Here you will find first-hand stories of others’ caregiving journeys, as well as an online bookstore and tips on resources and strategies.
There are 65.7 million family caregivers in the US--29% of the adult population--and caregiving affects the whole family. The National Alliance for Caregiving is a non-profit coalition of over 50 national organizations focused on family caregiving. The organization identifies new trends and sheds light on the varying needs of caregivers nationwide.
Caregiving is challenging enough when Mom is next door. What if she’s in Chicago? Or Boston? Having an ally on the ground to help you assess the situation can be exactly the extra bit of assistance you need to make sure that all goes well. The National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers can help you locate a professional Geriatric Care Manager, a health and human services specialist who helps families who are caring for older relatives.
If you’re a primary caregiver, or if you’re coordinating care at a distance, no doubt you know what it’s like to feel as if you don’t have enough hands, or enough hours in the day, to do everything that needs to be done. Lotsa Helping Hands harnesses the power of community and links it through an online service to provide help when it’s needed. You can create your own community and ask for help, without having to make a dozen phone calls or feel that you’re putting friends on the spot.
Finally, don’t forget to take care of yourself! The stories of other caregivers and how they’ve handled their challenges may give you the ideas you need to take care of yourself.
Contributed by jennyw
You listen to Radiolab, right? I know bunches of you do. We all stood shoulder-to shoulder late last year waiting to get into their live gig at The Keller Auditorium. (I was the short brunette with a glass of wine.) Anyway, did you hear their recent replay of the show on rabies? It blew my diabolical-virus-loving mind. And made me think back to a book I read a couple years ago, Rabid, by Bill Wasik and Monica Murphy. If you loved that Radiolab show, read the book. It chronicles the Milwaukee protocol story, and tons of other cool stuff.
So. Rabies. Turns out that it is one smart virus, like so many of the super deadly ones are, and we can learn loads of valuable info from its four thousand year history. It spreads easily from animal to human, and exhibits pretty normal symptoms at first... headache, fever, sore throat. Makes you think twice about that cold you're fighting now, doesn't it?
Why this cure? An antidote to screen time, a break from the princesses and ninjas, finding time to share a passion with your children of all ages, even something to read for grownups that can be digested in small bites.
Where’s this cure? Right here in the greater Portland metro area, in our backyards and urban forests.
What’s this cure? Reading books that have inspired me to delight and revel in the natural world, followed by a visit to a nearby park to answer questions I didn’t know I had. What? I was trampling on efts? What are those again?
Here are some of my favorites: fiction that includes natural history and natural history that reads like a story. Find out why voles turn somersaults or learn to tell bird nests from squirrel dreys in books about your backyard or our urban forests.
Did you know that there are regular programs for preschoolers at many of our natural areas? Or that you can see live owls and vultures at Audubon’s Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center? You might also try a guided family hike to explore painted turtles or working to evict invasive species. One great website that consolidates these opportunities is Exploring Portland's Natural Areas.
Maybe instead of a cure we should just call it fun.
Once upon a time there was a commercial-free heavy metal station under the control of high school students. Upon reaching that magical spot on the dial, “abandon all hope ye who enter” should have wafted via backmasked message about an inevitable descent into a magnificent and all too misunderstood musical realm.
My trek into the rabbit hole of metal began with the siren calls of Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Pantera, and Slayer. Soon, I encountered King Diamond, Sepultura, Nail Bomb, and Dio, making some frightening new friends who forged a permanent place in my heart.
Metal is not simply about black clothes, hellfire, and crunchy riffs at the speed of darkness. There’s a rich history of true musicianship, passion, and very interesting lives. In the definitive history of Metal, “Louder than Hell” Wiederhorn uses over 250 interviews from the musicians who lived and died to tell the tale. Skillful editing has created a pleasantly exhaustive account of the many genres and subgenres of metal including, thrash, speed, death, and yes, even nu...
If you've ever been curious about what lurks behind the black curtain and behind the wall of Marshall amps, this is your backstage pass.